Grizzlies 82, Rockets 78
The Memphis Grizzlies have big goals in mind for the rest of this season. At the top of the list on Friday was ending their long losing streak in Houston.
The teams could possibly meet in the first round of the playoffs, but the talk at the Memphis shootaround was all about beating Houston on its home floor for the first time since April 2006.
''Every time we came here, it was on our mind,'' Gasol said. ''We needed this win for many reasons, and that was one of them.''
James Harden scored 30 points, but missed a potential game-tying jumper from near the top of the key just before the buzzer. Tony Allen and Tayshaun Prince did most of the work guarding Harden, and the NBA's fifth-leading scorer missed all seven shots in the fourth quarter.
''We were just trying to make it as tough for him as we can,'' Allen said. ''Through the course of the game, me and Tayshaun were hard on him and made him work and kind of forced him to miss that shot.''
Memphis has won seven of eight games, while the Rockets lost for the third time in 11 home games.
On Tuesday night, Houston beat Phoenix when Jermaine O'Neal was called for goaltending on Harden's last-second 3-pointer. Everyone in the sellout crowd knew the Rockets would go back to Harden again.
He faked out Allen for a clear look at the last shot but missed. Harden sank five 3-pointers in the game, but finished 7 for 24 from the field.
''They are a very good team,'' Harden said. ''We can't look to score 130 points a game. We've got to find ways to score when we don't score 100 or 110 points.''
The Grizzlies' top-ranked scoring defense stifled Houston most of the night. The Rockets, the NBA's highest-scoring team, went 23 of 73 from the field (31.5 percent) and committed 20 turnovers.
Rockets coach Kevin McHale had point guards Lin and Beverley on the floor for the start of the second quarter, and Beverley hit a 3 from the corner. Otherwise, the Rockets' offense continued to sputter, and Darrell Arthur finished another alley-oop, this one fed by Keyon Dooling, for a 32-22 Memphis lead.
McHale had his starters back in for the last four minutes of the half, but Houston didn't reach 30 points until Greg Smith's free throw with 3:05 left. Bayless, back after sitting out two games with a sore right knee, sank a 3-pointer and Prince drove for an easy dunk to put the Grizzlies up 46-30.
Houston went 11 for 37 from the field, gave away 10 turnovers and trailed by as many as 19 in the first half.
''The first half, I thought we came out a little bit timid,'' McHale said. ''We weren't really playing as hard as I thought we had to.''
Houston chipped away with some suffocating defense of its own. The Grizzlies went seven minutes without a field goal between the third and fourth quarters, and the Rockets tied it at 66-all with just under nine minutes left.
Gasol hit a fadeaway jumper with 7:14 left, ending the field-goal drought for Memphis. The Grizzlies' defense picked up again and the Rockets were back to the disjointed offense they showed at the beginning.
Lin, who had five assists, said the final quarter was a valuable experience for the Rockets with the playoffs so close.
''We wanted to win, obviously, but I think we did some good things down the stretch,'' Lin said. ''We gave them a couple of different looks, a couple of different plays and things we've been working on. Hopefully, this will better prepare us for the future.''
Gasol, meanwhile, was disappointed in the way the Grizzlies finished the game, even though they pulled out the victory.
''At least for three quarters, we had pretty good focus,'' Gasol said. ''In the fourth quarter, we didn't do a good job. We were not as sharp executing as we should be.''
Notes: Allen briefly left after hurting his left hip colliding with Smith in the third quarter. ... Gasol recorded his 100th career double-double. ... Harden has 22 30-point games this season. ... Rockets F Chandler Parsons missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained right calf. McHale expects Parsons to play in two of Houston's final three regular-season games, including the finale against the Lakers.